When Uncle Fred starts picking political fights at the Thanksgiving dinner table or Aunt Winnie complains for the 700th time about how her breakfast doesn’t look like the picture on the box, most of us know to roll our eyes, nod our heads politely and promptly ignore them in order to keep the peace. So, what is it about social media that brings out the fightin’ spirit in so many of us?
While it may be tempting to fight over the social issues du jour with strangers on Facebook or Twitter, deep down most of us know that we’re just banging our heads against the proverbial wall and it only feels good when you stop. When it’s so difficult to know when to say when, how do companies and brands know when not to engage people on social media?
No matter who you are, no matter what you do — people are going to bait you. These people may not engage you directly, but may instead mention your company or brand and try to find every nit picky angle to get you to respond. On Twitter: “I’ll donate $30,000 to @CharityABC if @ElectronicsStoreABC stops selling electronics made in China.” While Electronics Store ABC may be tempted to tweet a link to their statement about electronics sourcing, they should skip it. DO NOT ENGAGE. This person is likely already aware of the policy and engaging them will not win any hearts, minds or customers.
If, however, someone asks, via a social media channel, what the policy of Electronics Store ABC is about electronics made in China, send that consumer a link to the official company policy statement. They are asking for information and may or may not make a decision based on the response and the information given.
Facebook post comment: “I hate your company because you wouldn’t give me a job.” Facebook photo comment: “I hate your company because you wouldn’t give me a job.” Twitter: “I H8 UR company bcuz you wouldn’t give me a job.” Nothing you do is going to make this person NOT hate your company. Even a message stating, “Thank you for your feedback, we regret that we aren’t able to employ every talented job applicant,” is going to garner a repeat of the earlier hate posts. DO NOT ENGAGE.
If you have hundreds (or thousands) or people flooding your social media channels about one specific issue, it is appropriate to address their concerns. Consider their feedback, carefully formulate an official company statement and post links to that statement across social media channels. That shows you’re listening and responding to consumer opinions.
Porn bots, people continually begging for links, follows and retweets and just plain spam should always, always be ignored. If you can’t tell right away if something is spam, do a bit more investigating into the source. When in doubt, if it doesn’t directly apply to your company or brand, DO NOT ENGAGE.
Social media is an amazing way to connect with and engage your target audiences, but knowing when notto engage is just as important for your image (and your sanity). If there’s ever a question as to if and when you should engage on social media, feel free to reach out to me. I can help you determine when and where your voice should be heard.